I started writing Lotus during April’s CampNaNoWriMo. It’s set in 1948 in the same Oxfordshire village as NTSR. Mostly it’s about a coven of vampires who are still Violet’s neighbours in present times. We meet them briefly in Paper Starlings, and they have the occasional scene throughout the series.
Adam Castle — the grandad in NTSR — is just a boy in this story where we see the beginnings of his lifelong friendship with well-demon, Amos Blackmore. I had a lot of fun pitching Amos as Adam’s childhood nemesis.
Although I wrote the final scene already, I still have a few scenes left to write. I plan to publish Lotus after the first two NTSR books have been released.
This is what it’s about …
Betsy Merryweather’s reluctance to lead her coven puts them all at risk when they’re targeted in a revenge plot. Lotus — a little girl with unknown power who was found hiding in the Castle family’s mausoleum — is the only reliable witness to the horrible deeds that went down on Castle land. But Lotus is a secret keeper with a bind on her tongue, and when another coven member finds her unconscious in the woods, Betsy helps Lotus unravel her tongue, slowly learning the terrible truth about what her coven has been harbouring for years.
This is how it begins …
On silent feet, she tiptoed across the expanse of polished wood, her knife tucked into her hand and a small bottle of chloroform wrapped in a handkerchief between her breasts.
The full moon painted the pale, empty drawing room with slanting shafts of blue light and shadow through the tall, thin windows. The stars barely blinked for her; she had no interest in making them fall tonight. The hazy silhouette of the Eiffel Tower stood sentinel in the lamp-foggy darkness. All was silent.
Twenty-five years later in Oxfordshire …
“I would’ve bled him dry, but he’s one of us, and I didn’t want to get blood on my new suit” Birdie said, hauling the man over the threshold and into the hall.
“You have a meeting?” said Betsy.
“Gerald Freestone’s flapping about running for council,” they said. “Over my dead teeth.”
Betsy snorted, peering closer at the man draped over Birdie’s shoulder, wrapped from neck to knees in a horse blanket. “Who is he?”
Birdie gave her an impatient look. “How the hell should I know?”
She stood at the bottom of the staircase, leaning against the newel post. “What happened to him?”
“Unless Blackmore’s heifers got loose, I’d bet a bucket of blood he got hit by a car. The way motorists take the corners on the country roads is a bloody outrage.”
Betsy turned to go back upstairs. “You sound like Samuel.”
“Are you going to give me a hand getting this lump into the drawing room?”
“Why don’t you ask our new leader for help?”
Betsy wasn’t bitter. She wasn’t. She hadn’t wanted leadership; Edith had. Nobody else had put themselves forward. Samuel said this was because they were waiting on her, but she didn’t believe that.
Birdie mumbled something under their breath and dragged the man across the hall and into the drawing room, his feet catching and bunching every rug on the way.
“What was that?” Betsy called.
“Nothing,” Birdie sang.
The man’s name was Edwin. He lounged on the chaise like a sultan, a bloody bandage wrapped around his head, his shirt casually undone to the waist. Betsy didn’t like him already. Practised nonchalance, cherubic curls, round blue eyes and, worst of all, a silver tongue. He could keep it to himself as far as she was concerned. Edith buzzed around him like he kept nectar in his pockets.
This is a terrible stick figure drawing I did of the next scene for a Twitter game …
And later, a scene from Lotus’ perspective …
Lotus lurched awake, peeling her body away from her shelter in alarm. The scents of moss and mushrooms in the chill air filled her nostrils, her lungs. The woods to the west of the priory were dark, every tree shivering, their serrated silhouettes sketched with moon-silvered edges.
She had made her bed in the trees tonight, curling into the wrinkled bark of a horse chestnut. The cracking sound she made as she broke free, like the trampling of a thousand twigs, stilled her. What had woken her so abruptly?
The woodland floor was alive with scurrying things—yowling foxes, churring badgers, and smaller things, invisible but for the shifting leaves—all heading for the river. Eyes wide, Lotus scanned the trees, searching the moon-tinted gaps for movement. Only predators were capable of causing a stampede, and she could already smell them—cloying floral and fruit to hide the rot. Vampires.
That’s all you’re getting for now.